3 Great Needs for 21st-Century Pastors

One of the smartest things I sometimes do is ask for help.

I recently had a brief phone discussion with my friend, Pastor Chris Bambrough. I shared my idea for this list of three of the greatest needs for 21st-century pastors. I had two, and he gave me the third. He wrote about two of them, and I’ve written about one of them.

My disclaimer is that I’m not labeling these as must-haves for pastors. Some are doing great work for God and are blessed exceptions. However, I believe these three are needed for long-term effectiveness in 21st-century pastoral ministry.

  • The first item that I shared with Chris is spiritual discernment. I’ll refer to it as SD for this article’s sake.

Chris said: “I personally believe that SD is essential. When we think about the number of individuals with whom we cross paths, to not be actively flowing in SD puts the pastor at a significant disadvantage. Without discernment, today’s church hero can become tomorrow’s church problem. The pastor who didn’t see it coming is unprepared to handle the issue. This could cause the problem to be compounded and might even lead to a church split or the pastor’s next move.”

“21st-century pastors also need SD to discern whether ministry ideas are the Holy Spirit’s desire and timing. If the timing is not His, the ministry will ultimately fail. You might think, “Even if one person is touched or blessed, isn’t it worth it?” The small ministry should never be taken for granted. But consider this: You get on a boat for the first time, and the boat sank. What would be the chances of you getting on a boat in the future? It doesn’t matter if the Captain assures you that they just weren’t properly prepared the first time, and all of the problems have been fixed. They are going to have a fight on their hands, trying to get you on the boat again. If a pastor does not use SD concerning the launch of a ministry and it fails, it will be next to impossible to get the congregation on board the next time a new idea is presented.”

  • The second item is emotional intelligence. It doesn’t sound scriptural, but what EI represents is quite biblical. I would even say it’s related to spiritual discernment.

Some pastors seem to have great emotional intelligence from their first day in leadership. But most of us grow in this as we mature in Christ. EI is about being aware of your own emotions and becoming aware of others in social situations. Pastors with sufficient EI can read the room. It’s like they can measure the collective emotional state of the room and decide what direction it needs to go in. It also has to do with being compassionate, knowing when and how to empathize with individuals. The pastor with a high EI quotient will exhibit the spiritual fruit of self-control and would never want to be seen as abusing their authority.

  • For the final and arguably the most important, Chris immediately brought confidence in the call to this list. I’ll coin this calling confidence as CC, and I think you’ll see how this is related to emotional intelligence.

Chris said: “With so many that seem to care more about what the celebrity media pastor has to say than what their own pastor is bringing forth on Sunday, discouragement can abound with the local church pastor. More and more people are refusing to assemble themselves together in a local church. It’s so easy to pull up a sermon from an internet platform, sit back in your pajamas, keep your money in your billfold, and consider yourself a churchgoer. Churches across the country are experiencing smaller congregations, and no one takes it to heart more than the local pastor. Therefore, the 21st-century pastor MUST have Holy Spirit fueled CC. If you have CC, the numbers become less significant than making sure you’re bringing an anointed Word. You know that you prayed and prepared yourself thoroughly and passionately presented the message. If a pastor lacks this CC, it is only a matter of time before personal discouragement spreads to the faithful in attendance. There is not a whole lot of hope for such a congregation because it becomes confined by the pastor’s insecurity.”

  • Which of these 3 surprised you?
  • Which of these 3 are you growing in?
  • Which of these 3 are you strongest in?

Let’s have a cup of coffee, and start a positive discussion with your comment below.

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